We had a pretty interesting conversation at the Syndicate conference in NYC yesterday – where the topic was syndication and communities and what happens when your content gets remixed or mutilated in those communities. The panelists included Pete Blackshaw from Nielsen BuzzMetrics, Bill Schreiner from AOL amd Jason Levitt from Yahoo. Josh at Hyku has a recording of the session on his blog (here for MP3).
A particularly interesting point was made by Pete Blackshaw when he said that brands should put their customer service at the center of their brand universe. Customer service is where people give you real feedback about their brand “experiences,” and most often when things start going negative, as was the case when Jeff Jarvis started documenting his negative experiences with Dell on his blog – it starts off in the customer service department. In fact, Pete said, “the value of the customer service department may be 10 times as valuable as bean counters account for…”
This is something I could not agree with more, and in fact we have argued this point many times – going as far as recommending that customer service becomes an integral part of the marketing function. You cannot spend dollars on creating demand and making promises to prospective customers and then not deliver. The brand promise and the brand experience needs to be consistent across all customer touch-points – and one of the most crucial touch-points is your customer service department.
Another interesting point was made by someone in the audience – saying that the youth market has no interest in communicating with brands but that they communicate through brands. I am not sure that this is an exclusive youth market characteristic, as I think that most people could care less about the brand outside of how it makes them feel about themselves when using/wearing those brands.